Tag Archives: electrical industry

Project 1: Ugly PowerPoint

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The Reclosers presentation is a great example of an ugly PowerPoint given to me to make into an online presentation.

There are multiple audiences for this presentation. First, it is for electrical utility line mechanic apprentices who need an introduction to reclosers before they perform hands-on training in class. Trainers can use it in class, accessing it from the company’s intranet and playing from their laptops using a projector, pausing the Articulate player when they would like to expand on a point made as they go along. Second, it is for experienced utility line mechanics in the field who can access it from the LMS using a laptop computer in their trucks to brush up on their skills. In fact, any employee accessing the LMS would be able to get information about reclosers from this presentation. But it’s assumed that the audience has some knowledge about utility distribution equipment. Third, it is for line mechanic supervisors who would like to use it for their safety meetings, like the trainers would use in the classroom. They could access it from the company’s intranet using their laptop and a projector for a small group of their employees. It is fairly common to be asked to provide a product with multiple uses in order to maximize the benefits for the widest audience possible.

I would be teamed up with a subject matter expert, most likely one of the trainers who had originally developed the PowerPoint. Draft versions of the Articulate presentation would need to be approved by a larger team of trainers, and when final approval is achieved, would be made available on the trainer’s website and the LMS. I would work with Corporate Communications to advertise the product’s availability via email and the company’s intranet site. In the weeks after the release, evaluation data would be gathered from the LMS and the trainer’s website (Sharepoint) to see how often the presentation was being used, any feedback given, and if it was reaching the intended audience.

Next post, I’m going to talk about the milestones of the project.

#271 eLearning

An introduction to my blog

My name is Barb Roland and I’m an Instructional Designer in the Central Ohio area. I’m going to use this blog to document some of my portfolio projects. Hopefully it will capture my journey as I transition into a different phase of my career.

Here’s a little background on me: between 2000 and 2013 I worked at American Electric Power in Columbus Ohio in their Distribution Technical Training department designing their training materials. They train line mechanics, underground network mechanics, and meter electricians. Their programs are four-year apprenticeships for the workers who build and repair utility equipment. They climb poles, use bucket trucks, crawl into underground vaults and need to have technical knowledge about how to work on their equipment. These four-year programs consist of learning guides, PowerPoint presentations, web-based training, hands-on field training, and testing. My job was to write or update their material and make their material available on the company’s Learning Management System and their intranet site. My goal was to push the trainers to embrace web-based technologies whenever it was practical to do so.

During my time at American Electric Power, I managed to finish a long-overdue Bachelor degree at Franklin University. I majored in Digital Communication, something that I hoped would help me figure out what I wanted to do with my career. I had been an Administrative Assistant for many years, but always found that I was getting involved in graphic design, database building, learning management systems, and computer based learning. I was usually the “office geek” who was unafraid of learning new systems and exploring new technologies. I had studied at Kent State University in their graphic design department when I was much younger and always felt drawn to learning, writing, and art. So, it was a natural transition for me to get into Digital Communications. At the time, there was no program for Instructional Designers and I had never even heard of this as a career choice. After I had my degree, I approached my manager to promote me to a Technical Writer position, a position I figured was as close as I could get to describing what I was doing at the time. He agreed and I got my dream job. I got to work on a variety of projects and dove into our company’s learning community, where I learned about Articulate Studio and other elearning tools. I quickly learned that I was an Instructional Designer and my career came into focus.

Student in bucket truck grounding a line
Student in bucket truck grounding a line

The electrical industry is going through a lot of changes these days, and American Electric Power is no different. The company went through a re-organization at the beginning of 2013 and unfortunately my position was affected. But, I’m grateful I had the chance to discover that my passion was instructional design while I was in that position. I feel that I have a lot more focus about my career path now. So now, I’m in the process of putting together some projects that anyone can see online that show what I can do as a designer.

My plan is to post some details about each project I put together with each blog post. I may even post a bit about the process of transitioning from the corporate world as an employee to a contractor. It may be a bumpy ride, but I’m looking forward to what happens!